Friday, October 3, 2008

Swede Aims To Be First To Ski The World’s Three Highest Mountains

The Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson is trying to become the first person to ski the three highest mountains in the world. The three year project starts this month with Fredrik going to the Himalayas to ski the third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga (8586m).
Fredrik Ericsson is one of the world’s leading high altitude skiers with ski descents on some of the highest mountains on earth, including; Peak Somoni, Shisha Pangma, Gasherbrum 2, Laila Peak and Dhaulagiri. Fredrik's partner on the expedition is Norwegian extrema skier Jörgen Aamot.
"I have already skied on three of the fourteen 8000-metre peaks, but now the aim is towards the absolute highest. The project spans over three years and I will try to ski the three highest mountains in the world, Kangchenjunga (8586m) this autumn, K2 (8612m) next summer and Mount Everest in the autumn of 2010" says Fredrik. Everest has claimed the lives of several skiers and boarders in the few years since it was first descended on skis and board.
The first big challenge starts now when Fredrik together with his Norwegian companion are going to the Himalayas. The mountain they plan to climb and ski – Kangchenjunga – lies on the border between Nepal and Indian state Sikkim. Kangchenjunga was assumed to be the highest mountain in the world for many years before the correct altitude of Mount Everest was established in 1849.
Kangchenjunga was first climbed in 1955 by a British team that included Joe Brown and George Band. Since then, around 200 climbers have reached the summit. But so far no Swede or Norwegian has climbed to the summit and no one has skied off the summit of Kangchenjunga.
"This means that we can become the first Swede and Norwegian to climb to the summit and also the first in the world to ski the mountain" says Fredrik
After a long journey by aeroplane, jeep and on foot they will end up on the Yalung glacier where they will set up base camp at an altitude of about 5300 meters. They will prepare for the big challenge over a period of three weeks during which they will undertake several acclimatising climbs. Mid October will see the duo start the hard climb to the top of Kangchenjunga.
"We will carry all our equipment; we have randonneboots on our feet and will not use supplemental oxygen. Therefore it’s harder for us to climb the mountain than for most of the other climbers" says Fredrik.
The climbing is mostly on a glacier, the route is long and serious and it’s extremely strenuous climbing at that altitude. Fredrik and Jörgen are planning to use four days from base camp to the summit and they will spend three nights in camps on the way. "On the summit day we start climbing at midnight and I believe it will take about 10 hours to reach the top" says Fredrik.
The ski descent, which is the highlight of the two month expedition, is expected to take five hours. The descent goes all the way down to base camp, has a vertical of almost 3300 metres and has very steep sections of up to 50 degrees inclination.
"To ski at 8000 meters is not easy. It’s extremely hard work and in the beginning we have to stop to rest after only a few turns. After four to five turns I’m as exhausted as after skiing 1000 vertical meters in the Alps" says Fredrik.